February 19, 2014 at 2:29 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
GOP congressional hopeful says ENDA is ‘segregation’
Nevada, Republican Party, Cresent Hardy, gay news, Washington Blade, Cresent Hardy

Nevada Assemblyman Cresent Hardy says ENDA is “segregation” (Photo public domain).

A Republican candidate running for Congress in Nevada said he opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because the pro-LGBT measure would amount to “segregation” under the law.

Cresent Hardy, a Nevada Assembly member, expressed opposition to ENDA in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun on Tuesday — the same day he launched his congressional bid.

“When we create classes, we create that same separation that we’re trying to unfold somehow,” Hardy was quoted as saying. “By continuing to create these laws that are what I call segregation laws, it puts one class of a person over another. We are creating classes of people through these laws.”

The long-sought measure, passed by the U.S. Senate and pending in the U.S. House, would prohibit employers from discriminating against or firing someone because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

As an Assembly member, Hardy voted against a state law extending job protections to transgender workers before it was signed in 2011 by Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican.

Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Horsford (D-Nev.), the Democratic incumbent Hardy is challenging, is among the 201 sponsors of ENDA in the U.S. House. Both U.S. senators from Nevada, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), voted for ENDA on the Senate floor late last year, where it passed on a bipartisan basis.

In addition to expressing opposition to ENDA, Hardy, a Mormon, also reportedly expressed opposition to same-sex marriage based on his religious beliefs, saying the issue should be left to the states.

I will always vote against same sex marriage because of my religious beliefs, the way I was raised,” Hardy was quoted as saying. “For me to vote for it would be to deny the same God that I believe in.”

Hardy is the middle of a primary fight for the Republican nomination to represent Nevada’s 4th congressional district in the U.S. House. He’s facing a challenge from Tea Party activist Niger Innis. The primary is set for June 10.

Zach Hudson, communications director for the Nevada State Democratic Party, criticized Hardy for expressing opposition to ENDA despite widespread public support for the measure, calling on the candidate to apologize for the remarks.

“Only months after Nevada Republicans cheered at the prospect of minorities not voting and said they would vote to legalize slavery if their constituents wanted it, Cresent Hardy piled on yesterday and compared the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to ‘segregation,’” Hudson said. “The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would end employment discrimination based off sexual orientation, yet somehow Cresent Hardy thinks it is comparable to a discriminatory practice that the Supreme Court rightly ruled unconstitutional decades ago. Cresent Hardy clearly needs a history lesson, and, more importantly, Nevadans deserve an apology for his disgusting remarks.”

UPDATE: Following the publication of this posting, Hardy issued a statement via his campaign to the Washington Blade to clarify his position on ENDA.

“I believe in advancement through performance,” Hardy said. “There is no room for discrimination in the workplace at any level and I strongly oppose laws to hold back, or advance, a person strictly based upon a label or grouping. Political spin doctors will twist that comment in ways that benefit those that fund their activities. The truth is, I support workplace laws that reward those who do the best job regardless of who they are. Any suggestion otherwise is simply not true.”

The campaign also pointed to a subsequent article published by the Las Vegas Sun with the full transcript of the interview. Although Hardy did suggest ENDA amounts to “segregation” under the law, he also said “you shouldn’t discriminate against anybody.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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